Mitcham Common played host to the second round of the LUCA XC series last Wednesday, with almost 200 students making the journey south to tackle a deceptively tricky course. Fast ground lay in wait but with some nasty short climbs it would not be the pancake course many would have hoped for after Parli Hill. Thankfully some sun appeared with the runners to give a distinctly autumnal feel to proceedings.
After a hotly contested first race, it was Imperial and St Mary’s who set the early pace and this was to continue here. On the mens’ side, those 2 clubs contributed 11 of the top 13 runners in an impressive show of strength. Thomas Butler (SMU) and Oliver Barbaresi (IC) had been 1st and 2nd last time out but neither could live with the pace of St Mary’s’ Dan Jarvis who scooped his 4th LUCA victory, with Barbaresi and Butler 2nd and 3rd. The Imperial-St Mary’s pattern was continued with Daniel Mulryan (IC) and George Groom (SMU) in 4th and 5th, with Reading’s James Lyne in 6th the first sign of disrupting the status quo. Imperial closed their A team in 11th and indeed followed that with 3 more B team runners in the top 18 to underline their numerical strength. St Mary’s looked to have claimed the win with 4 in the top 7 but their 5th man was 20th, handing Imperial the narrowest of match wins by 2 points.
The league table looks to be a two horse race at this early stage, with St Mary’s on 1948 hotly pursued by Imperial on 1939, with Imperial’s B team rounding off the top 3 on 1823, but Reading’s men have a strong squad and are chasing hard in 4th place on 1756.
On the women’s side, it was similarly congested following round 1, as Imperial took an early lead but with UCL and St Mary’s close behind. These 3 clubs dominated the front end again, making up the top 11, as Imperial’s Georgia Curry repeated her win here last year with a 20 second margin over SMU’s Juliet Hodder in 2nd. They were followed by Imperial’s Laura Wright in 3rd, more blue and white with Gintare Juknyte 4th, Madelyn Huston leading the UCL charge in 5th and Chloe Baker adding to the Imperial numbers in 6th. Impressively Imperial closed their team with Alix Vermeulen in 8th, only dropping 14 of a possible 600 points in the process! On the day, UCL and St Mary’s could only be separated by 1 point, with 572 and 571 respectively.
It looks to be these 3 clubs who are pulling away, with just 53 points separating Imperial in 1st from UCL in 3rd. Imperial B, Reading and Barts are all challenging strong though with higher scores this round. As we see again in this league it’s so tight and one good round from a team could see them shoot up the table.
So we go to the beautiful Wimbledon Common in just over a week, with more on the line this time: the race encompasses the University of London Championships, with medals for both the first 3 finishers and teams, and the United Hospitals XC Championships (aka the Bannister Cup), which is contested by the medical schools of London. As the 3rd in quick succession a good turnout is vital to stay in the race before the ‘respite’ period to come, so be there!